Ericsson confirmed as first official entry in the VOR 2008-09 13/9/06

Ericsson Racing Team was confirmed today as the first official entry in the Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09.

The decision to commit to the next edition of the race comes just three months after Ericsson finished the 2005-06 event. In doing so they join a select band of repeat entries in the race’s 32-year history.

Ericsson is the first of five entries the race organisers will announce over the coming weeks. The identity of one of those syndicates will be revealed as early as next week – an illustration that interest in the race among ocean racing competitors and their corporate partners is now at unprecedented levels.

Following the 2005-06 event, the race organisers took the decision to bring the race forward by a year – to 2008-09 – thus breaking a four-year cycle which had existed since the first race (The Whitbread Round the World Race) in 1973. The route for 2008-09 will also feature ports of call in Asia and the Middle East for the very first time.

Glenn Bourke, the CEO of the Volvo Ocean Race, welcomed today’s announcement. “The confirmation of the entry from Ericsson, one of the biggest players in the world of telecommunications, so soon after the previous race, is a powerful commercial endorsement for the Volvo Ocean Race,” he said. “It is a vote of confidence in the evolution of the event and underlines our status as the world’s premier ocean race competition. Our objective in changing the race cycle from four years to three was to bring more continuity for the likes of Ericsson Racing Team and other teams.

“Ericsson was also our mobile technology partner in 2005-06. Their capabilities enabled us to engage a completely new audience through the Ericsson mobile channel.

“And from a competitive perspective, it is clear Ericsson feel they have unfinished business in this race.”

On the subject of additional entries, Bourke added: “The entries are piling up which is a healthy position for us to be in more than two years out from the start of the next race and despite the fact that we brought forward the next iteration of the race by a year. Following Ericsson, and besides next week’s announcement, we expect to be in a position to go public with the details of other entries shortly.”

Bourke added that the route for the new-look 2008-09 race is beginning to take shape with discussions with potential port destinations in China, Singapore, India and the Middle East at an advanced stage.”

Atlant Ocean Racing, the Swedish ocean race team headed by Richard Brisius and Johan Salen, who were involved in Ericsson’s 2005-06 campaign, will again be part of the 2008-09 Ericsson Racing Team entry.

Brisius, said: “The predicted changes to the course and the improvement to the VO70 Rule will ensure that the 2008-09 edition will be the most exciting round the world race ever. The Ericsson Racing Team gained valuable experiences about the new boats and other aspects of the campaign during the last race, experiences that surely will be beneficial for Ericsson Racing Team going forward.”

Ericsson finished fifth overall in the 2005-06 race having been beset by problems with the boat’s canting keel mechanism. With Britain’s Neal MacDonald sharing the skippering duties with John Kostecki (US), the team started in a blaze of glory with victory in the in-port race in Galicia – the prelude to the first ocean leg from Spain to Cape Town.

Thereafter points were harder to come by with the highlights being third place in the Rio In-Port Race and further podium positions on a tough transatlantic leg from New York to Portsmouth (second) and from Portsmouth to Rotterdam (third).

The next edition of the Volvo Ocean Race will start in the autumn of 2008 in Alicante, Spain.